A small subpopulation of polar bears lives on what used to be thick, multiyear sea ice far above the Arctic Circle. The roughly 300 to 350 bears in Kane Basin, a frigid channel between Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Greenland, make up about 1-2% of the world’s polar bears.
New research shows that Kane Basin polar bears are doing better, on average, in recent years than they were in the 1990s. The study, published Sept. 23 in Global Change Biology, finds the bears are healthier as conditions are warming because thinning and shrinking multiyear sea ice is allowing more sunlight to reach the ocean surface, which makes the system more ecologically productive.
“We find that a small number of the world’s polar bears that live in multiyear ice regions are temporarily benefiting from climate change,” said lead author Kristin Laidre, a polar scientist at the University of Washington Applied Physics